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Public hearing at sea on long-term ferry plan Jan. 15

The ferries division of the state Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on its draft long-range plan options aboard the San Juan Inter-Island ferry from 11:35 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 15.

The choices made in the plan could have a profound impact on the future of San Juan County. One of the key questions facing planners is the future level of state financial support for the ferry system.

The division’s proposal includes two alternative visions: Option A, which assumes the state will be forthcoming with additional revenue and “will continue in its current role as owner, operator and principal funder of ferry services ...“

Option B assumes that the state cannot provide new revenue and the draft “proposes an alternative where the State takes responsibility for the core marine highway system and a locally funded entity or entities would take responsibility for a new marine transit system.”

WSDOT will be accepting public input on the draft long-range plan through Jan. 21. The final plan is scheduled to be released on Jan. 30.

The full draft of the long-range plan is available on the WSDOT Web site at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/planning/eshb2358.

San Juan County’s transportation planner, Shannon Wilbur, has prepared a brief summary of Plans A & B which points out similarities and differences in the plans and highlights specific items which will affect San Juan County. That summary is available in PDF file format at www.sanjuanco.com/docs/news/FerryPlanReview_public.pdf

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